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John Wagner (pastor)

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John Wagner
John Joseph Wagner.webp
Pastor John J. Wagner
ChurchEPIC Church International (Sayreville, New Jersey)
InstalledApril 9, 2018
PredecessorDavid T. Demola
Personal details
Birth nameJohn Joseph Wagner
SpouseDr. Ilena Wagner, P.h.D.
Margie Wagner
ChildrenElajah Vasquez
Trey Vasquez
Justin Vasquez
Amanda Wagner
Public speaker
EducationUniversity of Miami
Golden State University (BA)
Honolulu University (MA)

John Joseph Wagner is an American public speaker, church founder, and the lead pastor of EPIC Church International, a nondenominational Christian megachurch in Sayreville, New Jersey, that is the 38th largest church in the United States.[1] He experienced substance addiction and drug-trafficking until he attended a church service in which his life was transformed[2]. His sermons discuss inspirational topics such as love, covenant theology, redemption, sanctification, and former substance abuse.[3]

Personal life and education[edit]

Joseph Wagner currently lives in New Jersey with his second wife, native-Manhattanite pastor Ilena Wagner, who share five children.[4]

John Wagner was born in Rahway, New Jersey and raised in Edison, New Jersey[2]. He started smoking marijuana at an early age in middle school and later developed an addiction to cocaine. His addiction continued as became a college student at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida seeking to build personal wealth through coke as a drug trafficker while studying there. At age 20, he was invited to church where he received Christ as his personal savior and became a born-again Christian, and routinely credits God for healing his dependence on cocaine and his drug rehabilitation. Before becoming a pastor, John Wagner was a student at Northeastern Bible College in Essex Fells, New Jersey.

John Wagner began as a Youth Pastor at EPIC Church International in 1987, where he would later return to become lead pastor. He received a bachelor's degree in General Education from Golden State University. Covenant Ministries International ordained him as a minister in 1988, Pastor Wagner holds a Master of Arts in Theology and Religion from Honolulu University in Hawaii.[2]


Since 1991, Pastor Wagner was a traveling pastor to minister the gospel of Jesus Christ, and has an extensive online collection of sermons[5]. He has lead congregations of over 6,000 members[6]. Pastor John Wagner was Executive Pastor at Discovery Church in Orlando, Florida. He was the pastor of Community Rock Church in Cooper City, Florida and then started the Church of Abounding Grace in Pembroke Pines, Florida in March 2003.[7] He was also Executive Pastor at Faith Church in New Milford, Connecticut. In 2010, Pastor John Wagner became the pastor of Turning Point Community Church in the Lubbock, Texas and became a hometown hero, supporting monthly community service projects, giving out free ice cream, water bottles, and Christmas trees.[8][9][10] He has sponsored projects in India giving water access to 250 residents.[10] Starting in 2011, Pastor John Wagner led Covenant Ministries International’s apostolic team[11], providing resources to an international association of pastors. He hosts an international conference that has hosted Creflo Dollar that has started in 1983 and attracts ministers from over 150 nations.[12][13][14]

In April 2018, John Wagner became the lead pastor of Faith Fellowship Ministries while the organization was under nonoptimal financial health and facing legal scrutiny[15]. The church has more than 10,000 church members with multiple services in Spanish and Portuguese[16]. In January, 2019, Faith Fellowship Ministries announced on its website and social media pages its transition to EPIC Church International inspired by Wagner and his wife.[17]

See also[edit]

  • EPIC Church International
  • David Demola
  • List of the largest Protestant churches in the United States


  1. "Outreach 100 List". 2018-10-02. Retrieved 2019-01-16.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "THE REV. JOHN J. WAGNER".
  4. "Lubbock Couple Remember 991 Attacks in Hometown".
  5. "Epic Church International".
  8. "Turning Point Community Church Shares the blessing of free ice cream".
  9. "Lubbock Church Give Free Christmas Trees to Families in Need".
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Pastor John and Ilena Wagner Hometown Heroes".
  11. "Covenant Ministries International President".
  12. "Pastor John Wagner Joins Star 99.1's, Rick Hall".
  13. "Pastor David T. Demola Founder of 10000 Member Faith Fellowship Ministries Dies".
  14. "Creflo Dollar to Speak at the 2018 IPMC".
  15. "".
  16. "USA Churches". USA Churches.
  17. "Faith Fellowship Ministries is now EPIC Church International".

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